Meet our new team member: Maddy

Providing real-life work experience to help students achieve learning objectives is something we do at Bakers’ Acres to give back to our community. By designing internships for Environmental Studies students from the College of St. Benedict / St. John’s University, to the University of Minnesota, we put a lot of effort into shaping projects that give students a chance to apply what they’ve learned in class to farm and business work.

This semester, we are coaching two students through marketing and communications roles. Our Communications Manager will learn how to create and execute internal and external communications plans, and our Marketing Communications Specialist will learn how to create and execute Creative Briefs and serve as an account manager, all with local food production as their subject matter.

Meet Maddy.

Maddy

MaddyHowdy All!

My name is Maddy and I am the new Communications Manager Intern for Bakers’ Acres this spring.

A little bit about myself…

I am a junior at the College of Saint Benedict majoring in Environmental Studies. My interest in agriculture has developed over the years but first sprouted as a child learning how to garden with my father. Ever since, I have always been drawn to how food is raised or grown.

My love for being outdoors and my desire to incorporate it into a future job led me to this internship. Whenever someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I always said a cowgirl or a farmer and when they asked why, I simply said, because they get to be outside, duh.

Last summer I had an unforgettable experience of working on a Bison and Corrientes beef cattle ranch in Northern Colorado. This experience definitely pushed my comfort zone, but gave me a taste of the sense of pride a person can feel when raising or growing food.

I have always wanted to be a part of something that will leave the land and the people who occupy the land healthier and happier, whether this be when I started to make my own environmentally friendly laundry soap in college, or when I stopped using shampoo and conditioner for a year to try to convince myself and others that social norms can be broken and that we can learn to do things differently.

During this internship I will be doing numerous tasks such as interacting with the local food community to understand how they work with local farmers and food. Also I will be able to understand the goals, concepts and problems that come up in sustainable farming and be able to develop decision-making skills by observing how solutions to these problems are created.

One of my main projects in this internship is to create a welcome packet and calendar for CSA customers. I will be doing this by following a creative brief. This will be my guide and my main tool to successfully relay information about pick-up dates, locations, tips for being a good CSA customer, and other important information. Overall, my main goal in this project is to provide pertinent, logistical information and make for a warm customer welcome to the CSA season.

As part of our training, I read the Minnesota Food Charter, and I am discovering how this framework can open doors for my future. The goal of the Minnesota Food Charter is to provide communities with the tools and resources to have a sustainable food system that offers its consumers healthy and nutritious options that aim to, as a result, build strong prosperous communities.  The main goal is to switch the availability of unhealthy foods to healthy foods so everyone has a chance at having good food no matter their income or location. This is a very big interest for me and my future career because I would love to be able to assist in making organic and sustainable farming more appealing to farmers, and as a result give more communities access to healthy nutritious food.

Over winter break, one of my work assignments was to make a dish using one of the ingredients grown at Bakers’ Acres. I made some super yummy Avocado Basil Pasta. This was exciting for me because herbs, such as basil, usually intimidate me. In the past I have failed miserably by either not putting enough or putting way too much. But I am proud to say this recipe turned out to be very successful. The pasta sauce was very similar to an alfredo sauce except it left you feeling lighter and healthier. The added corn and tomatoes were a perfect touch to its appearance and taste. Find the recipe from Damn Delicious here.

I am very excited to have this opportunity to work alongside a fellow Johnnie, Joe, and to learn and absorb as much as I can from our supervisor, Lisa. I hope to learn all about sustainable agriculture and increase my knowledge of how a CSA farm works – to not only learn more about farming and the labor involved but to also learn the communications, marketing and business management components of it as well.

2014 CSA Newsletters

Week 19 – Week of October 12

Week 18 – Week of October 5

Week 17 – Week of September 28

Week 16 – Week of September 21

Week 15 – Week of September 14

Week 14 – Week of September 7

Week 13 – Week of August 31

Week 12 – Week of August 24

Week 11 – Week of August 17

Week 9 – Week of August 3

Week 8 – Week of July 27

Week 7 – Week of July 20

Week 6 – Week of July 13

Week 4/5 – Week of July 6

Week 3 – June 25:

It’s Week 3 of CSA deliveries. That means all Large and Small shares in the Twin Cities received their box yesterday on Tuesday, and then on Thursday, Central Minnesota Large shares only will get theirs.

To recap, we went through one full two-week cycle; all small shares received one box and all large shares received two. (Plus, now that this newsletter is arriving a day later than I’d hoped to send it, all Twin Cities folks received one more box yesterday.) We switched drop sites per request for a few customers and accommodated a couple of late pick-ups, but overall the first deliveries went smoothly. If you ran into any issues that we can help fix, please let me know.

No deliveries during 4th of July week

We will postpone deliveries for Week 4 (July 1 – Twin Cities large shares, and July 3 – Central Minnesota large and small shares), and add another delivery week at the end of the season for these two groups. This should help those of you who asked about changing the delivery day around Independence Day! It will also give our fields a chance to dry out and start growing finally. In the late fall, the cool crops that didn’t make it through the May heat wave will grow well again, and you should see bok choi, spinach and mesclun mix in your boxes at that time.

The normal delivery schedule will resume in Week 5 (July 8 – Twin Cities large and small shares, and July 10 – Central MN large shares only).

The Central MN small shares are going to see a big gap in their produce – the next box will come in Week 6, on July 17. By that time, hoop-house tomatoes, zucchini and all sorts of other things should be growing well and ready for harvest.

Here’s a summary:

Week 1
June 10 – Twin Cities – All
June 12 – Central MN – Large only
Week 2
June 17 – Twin Cities – Large only
June 19 – Central MN – All
Week 3 (this week)
June 24 – Twin Cities – All
June 26 – Central MN – Large only
Week 4
Postponed
Week 5
July 8 – Twin Cities – All
July 10 – Central MN – Large only
Week 6
July 15 – Twin Cities – Large only
July 17 – Central MN – All

 

Please let me know if you have questions. Before you know it, cucumbers, potatoes, tomatoes, herbs, beans, beets, carrots, squash and more, will be practically growing out of our ears! :)

Updates from the fields

The majority of the fields are unfortunately still saturated with water. We can’t even walk in them without sinking into mud, much less get more seeds into the ground, nor a tractor to cultivate the things that are already planted…which are badly suffering. It’s been a rough spring so far. The extreme early May heat also put all bok choi, mesclun mix, broccoli raab, spinach, and a few other cold-weather crops to seed almost immediately. That means we need to re-work the soil, wait about two weeks for the soil to do it’s biological thing, and then plant (a different short-season crop) again – once the soil’s not too wet. It’s really quite frustrating to be in this situation – the early heat and too much water are two factors we just cannot control. But on the bright side, there are many, many weeks between now and mid-October, and prime growing conditions will get here eventually!

The only field that isn't saturated with water right now.

The only field that isn’t saturated with water right now.

 

IMG_9689 tomato

 

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Here’s the work crew who’s paid through the rain, mud, sun, humidity, wind, heat and bugs to harvest and pack your produce: JJ, Luke and Brittney.
These shots were taken after cleaning up – after Brittney lost her shoes in the mud while washing crates! They work hard during the weekly 16-hour harvest/pack process, and we’re lucky to have them.

 

 

This week’s box contents & recipes

Tuesday’s boxes to the Twin Cities included:

  • Broccoli
  • Buttercrunch Lettuce
  • Snap peas
  • Scallions
  • Rhubarb
  • Basil (Here’s a recipe for Caprese)
  • A braising mix of Green Kale, Yukina Savoy and Baby Bok Choi (We didn’t want to waste the crop even tho it’s in rough shape, so hopefully you can use some of the bok choi and it tastes good.)
  • Red Russian Kale (Here’s a new recipe for Kale Soup, which we love!)
  • Radishes

I’ll email Central MN contents with the reminder email on Thursday.

In the news

The St. Cloud Times visited the farm a couple of weeks ago for a story about CSAs in the area. Here is the link to the article. The writer got a few facts mixed up (I’m not “voluntarily homeless” anymore – I couch-surfed to save money and stay connected with my community while I was working in the Twin Cities!), and he didn’t have much space to cover the philosophical conversation we had about food, community and nature, but he told a nice story about the folks working hard to provide an alternative to our nation’s conventional food system. The photographer took some nice photos for the printed version, too.

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In other news

Our farm mentors from Loon Organics visited Bakers’ Acres last weekend. As part of the Land Stewardship Project’s Journeyperson program and MOSES mentor program, I get to work with two very experienced and very sweet people from Hutchinson – Laura and Adam (and their two-year old son Eli). They have operated their successful, high quality organic farm for many years, and it was nice to hear their guidance and stories as we move into harvest season in our third production year. We talked about what sorts of pest problems begin to crop up after a few years in vegetable production – like flea beetles and leaf hoppers – and about how we can make a transplanter or buy our very own mulch layer eventually.

photo1

We also added a new friend to the farm: Merry. We adopted him (yes, he’s a he named Merry) from the co-op manager in St. Joe who moved from the country to the city and couldn’t bring any of her animals along. He loves hanging out with us wherever we go and is very chatty. We hear he’s a good mouser, and any barn can use one of those!

merry2 merry1

One other thing I’d like to share is a recent quote from the Chair of our Sustainable Farming Association chapter, Jim Chamberlin. He has worked with the Soil & Water Conservation District and now for Happy Dancing Turtle. He is a big proponent of restoration agriculture and agroforestry. You may have heard of “silvopasture” – he uses that word a lot. He is very thoughtful about what sorts of land management practices are being pushed by our government agencies and which he thinks are good or could be better. You’ve probably heard of CRP – the Conservation Reserve Program, incentivized by the USDA and paid for by our tax dollars. Here’s his latest thought-provoking comment to me and several others as we discussed an “Orcharding in the North” event:

“I believe the potential to provide resource restoration in productive agricultural systems is huge but will take a major shift of mindset in both the general public and resource professionals, as well as agricultural policy. We have been stuck in the CRP mindset where land must be “set aside” to provide conservation benefits for at least a couple of decades.  Agricultural policy and practice based on “tolerable soil loss” is unacceptable.  How to get the general public and policy makers to understand the potential of agroforestry and other ecological based agricultural systems to restore landscape ecology is the challenge we face.”

I like people like him who push ideas forward that challenge us to do things better. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from him!

Upcoming Events

Here is a reminder for the Festival of Farms event on July 12. Sign up online in advance if you’d like to come visit the farms! www.sfa-mn.org/central

FOF2014_Flyer_6-20-14

Have a fabulous Independence Day weekend!
Lisa
Farm Manager
Bakers’ Acres, LLC

Week 2 – June 15

Here are some updates and recipes for this week.

On the Farm

This growing season is off to a rough start because of all the rain. The fields have never been this saturated. Too much water makes seeds rot or stunts the growth of transplants like watermelons, so we are a little nervous every day on our field walks, crossing our fingers that all the plants will pull through til we get some warmth, wind and sunshine to dry out the soil. We use drip irrigation on every field to mitigate droughts, but there’s not much we can do about too much rain!

Inside the hoop house, we trellised tomatoes and started new transplants for head lettuce, broccoli and fennel.

In the barn, we finished insulating the indoor pack room and cleaned out the cow stall in the south lean-to.

During the very few dry days we had, the neighbor farmer hayed most of the cows’ pasture – the grass/hay mix was almost three feet high already! Florence and Frankfurt couldn’t keep up. But that’s a good problem to have. The neighbor farmers made 9 round bales.

Here are a few pics from the farm, for those of you who don’t use Facebook.

Farmer Travis transfers his I-94 snowplowing skills to the north field. Here he is, winning the blue ribbon for zero cultivator blight.  Bubbye, weeds!

Farmer Travis transfers his I-94 snowplowing skills to the north field. Here he is, winning the blue ribbon for zero cultivator blight.
Bubbye, weeds!

 

You can't quite see it yet, but that's sprouting radishes, spinach, romaine, kale, onions, potatoes, and brassica transplants, planted in the north field April 24. And a selfie in the sunset.  CSA deliveries begin mid-June!

You can’t quite see it yet, but that’s sprouting radishes, spinach, romaine, kale, onions, potatoes, and brassica transplants, planted in the north field April 24. And a selfie in the sunset.
CSA deliveries begin mid-June!

Checking off goals on the business development strategy today. 2014 brings us one step closer to a sustainable farming operation: We are paying our small number of employees for the first time.  We have a great crew of volunteers and workers this season including Lisa, Tom, Janet, Travis, Brittney, JJ, Luke and Reed. Some are using the opportunity as a paid internship for their Environmental Studies majors.  Meet two of our new farmers, Brittney and JJ, both Collegeville natives, trying to make in-row weeding look fun.

Checking off goals on the business development strategy today. 2014 brings us one step closer to a sustainable farming operation: We are paying our small number of employees for the first time.
We have a great crew of volunteers and workers this season including Lisa, Tom, Janet, Travis, Brittney, JJ, Luke and Reed. Some are using the opportunity as a paid internship for their Environmental Studies majors.
Meet two of our new farmers, Brittney and JJ, both Collegeville natives, trying to make in-row weeding look fun.

 

IMG_9465 IMG_9300 IMG_9273 IMG_9272 IMG_9191 IMG_9178

 

 

 

Box Contents

Right now, we are harvesting buttercrunch lettuce, broccoli, red russian kale, curly-leaf baby kale, romaine lettuce, basil, snap peas, rhubarb, broccoli raab and salad mix. We’ll send a list of actual contents once the packing is complete!

Recipes

Rhubarb

Kale

Buttercrunch and Romaine Lettuce

Snap Peas

New Plan for Reusable Boxes

We would like to adjust the plan for returning CSA boxes. If possible, please take the box with you when you pick up your share each week, carefully disassemble the box, and store the flat boxes in a safe place. On July 17 (Central Minnesota) and July 22 (Twin Cities), please bring all the boxes along with you when you pick up your share, and we will make a second round through the drop sites to pick them all up. Thank you for your help on this! If it works well, we’ll repeat this process after another few weeks.

 

We sincerely appreciate the opportunity to grow good food for you.

 

- Lisa

Farm Manager

Bakers’ Acres, LLC

Poultry Sales and the Farmer’s Living Wage

I find it fascinating to understand the true cost of food – both the process of discovering the true cost (because our food system has made it quite complicated) as well as the findings themselves. After finalizing some new details regarding raising meat birds for our customers, I found the per-bird cost Bakers’ Acres would have to charge would be too high to make it a marketable product. Thus, we will not be selling our pasture-raised poultry. With the intention to be as transparent as possible to help people understand the impact of their food dollar, here is why.

Raising food for ourselves, we hardly notice the on-average 30 minutes spent each day choring chickens. But, when raising food for sale as a living, those minutes become a line item on a ledger. They have value, and can be spent as part of one enterprise or another, contributing to the P&L of whatever product they’re invested into. In beginning farmer programs, we are taught to plan for our profit when building a farm business, rather than wait until the end of the year or tax season to see if we made any money. When I added labor into the surprisingly long list of chicken expenses, the cost grew to $30.07 per bird. I had known the per-bird cost would be high, but I didn’t think it would be THAT high.

Why is each bird so expensive? Here’s a run-down of the costs for 25 birds (50 or even 100 would cut the cost, but not by much):

25 chicks = $56.25
Shipping = $12
Feed – 8 weeks certified organic chick starter ($20/bag) = $160
Feed – 4 weeks transitional organic corn (~$7/bag) = $30
Processing – 25 birds @ $3/bird = $75
Transport to processing (130 miles x $0.565) = $73.45
Electric for heat lamp, water, coop door, etc. – 30 days @$1/day = $30

Total: $436.70 / 25 = $17.47 per bird

But that doesn’t include labor. If I were to pay myself or someone for caring for the birds, say even close to minimum wage, here’s the new price:

Farmer’s labor = 30 minutes/day x 12 weeks = 2,520 minutes = 42 hours, x $7.50/hr = $315

Total: $751.70 / 25 = $30.07 per bird

And guess what. That’s not even a living wage. A living wage in Minnesota is currently $9.69 for one adult, no children. To earn enough raising chickens (the way we raise them) in Minnesota so that you could live without being in poverty, each bird would have to be priced at a jaw-dropping $33.74.

My calculations might be a bit low or high, but regardless, that’s some expensive chicken noodle soup I just made…

For you smart shoppers comparing prices at the grocery store, a whole bird can weigh 6-7 pounds at its 12th week, and then the processed weight can be 4-5 lbs of meat. At $30/bird, that’s $6 to $7.50 per pound! A certified organic chicken breast might cost that much per pound, but rarely will you find a “whole bird” priced that high.

I understand how other farms can make poultry a profitable enterprise. They can raise their own chicks, not order and ship them from elsewhere. They can do the processing themselves or cut costs on transportation, not process them in small batches like we do at a facility far from the farm. They can buy feed in bulk.

But for Bakers’ Acres, poultry is not where I want to focus energy to win the economies of scale game. We’ll continue to primarily focus on growing fresh produce for our customers.

For those of you who expressed interest in buying poultry from us, there are several nearby certified organic farms raising birds for meat. Please check them out and consider giving them your business! On the Minnesota Grown website, you can search by zip code and buy directly from their farm or at the farmers’ market.

My thoughts on all this? First, I would like to encourage everyone to cherish the meat you eat. Now that I am raising livestock again to feed my family, whenever I eat beef, chicken or eggs, that simple choice and action becomes more precious and less simple with every day I spend caring for our animals – they work pretty dang hard just to grow, just so we can eat them. Truth.

Secondly, please acknowledge the miniscule wage the farmer – any farmer – is earning for producing the meat you eat. Even non-organic meat – and dairy and produce. Conventional farmers might incur less expensive inputs because they’re not feeding organic, but they also likely get paid less for their conventional product. In this sense, we’re all in the same boat when it comes to supplying our food system. Yes, there are certain subsidies and beneficial tax breaks involved in being a farmer, but you can bet the average small farmer is hardly scraping up a living wage. If you want to do something about it, buy from farms that focus on raising these types of products and do so profitably. Use that Minnesota Grown website.

Lastly, I want readers to know I appreciate having the opportunity to share what I learn about our food system as I dive deeper into truly knowing it. I hope this transparency might help you be a more aware consumer. Thanks for reading.

- Lisa (unedited and on the go, please excuse typos or grammatical laziness..) :)

2013 Season Reflection & Message of Thanks for our CSA Customers

Dear Customers,

The 2013 growing season is over at Bakers’ Acres and the farm has cozied into quiet winter mode.

I want you all to know how thankful I am for your choice to be part of the Bakers’ Acres community. You’ve enabled me to make a giant leap from a life of luxurious meaninglessness in a cubicle to a life filled with endless physical hard work, daunting accountability for our food system evolution, and constant real pressure to make sure I deliver a quality product…and I love it. And in all seriousness, providing you with truly healthy food feels like the best duty a person could ask for. It feels great to be contributing to our world in a way that positively influences our basic survival. I couldn’t take on this fulfilling feat without your support. So thank you for being part of it.

This past season was full of accomplishments:

  • Diversification – Outside of our second 18-week CSA season, we expanded production. Sales entered new markets including farmers’ markets, farm-to-school participation, restaurant sales, and growing a small amount of grain for a spirits distillery.
  • Food safety – We implemented a food safety plan, and for compliance, we constructed a wash and pack room including concrete and stainless steel equipment, an outdoor hydrant and a bathroom.
  • Season extension – We constructed a hoop house which will extend our harvest season in the autumn and our planting season in the spring.
  • Customer and community appreciation event – We hosted our first barnstormer, celebrating with a farm tour and hoedown.
  • Eggs and beef – We took another step toward being a small, sustainable system and added laying hens and beef cattle to the farm. It’s just a handful of hens and two calves, but it’s a start and it’s what the land can easily handle. Beef quarters can be purchased now with anticipated delivery late autumn 2014.
  • Political activism – It’s been a great year of learning firsthand how the Food Safety Modernization Act and Farm (And Food) Bill affect all of us. We vote with our food dollar, indeed.

We also hit a few stumbling blocks:

  • Quality, quantity and variety of produce – We planted for all of the markets above and supply the CSA first at harvest times. The contents was acceptable, but once we further improve the soil health and weed control and the orchards mature, carrots will grow longer, beans will arrive in more boxes, and you’ll see more kinds of herbs and fruits.
  • Recipes – We had grand intentions of preparing recipes for each CSA box this year but ended up only preparing a handful of recipes. We’ve already begun to remedy this and have gathered a large list of tasty recipes for next year.
  • Hired labor – The farm has generated job creation! In 2013, we could have improved many aspects of the operation if we had more hands on deck; in our plans to expand production output in 2014, we are planning to hire help. That’s good news for our community.

So now what? Now, it’s time to grow a little more into these farmer boots, refine plans for next year and take a little rest.

  • I was accepted into the Land Stewardship Project’s “Journeyperson Program”, which is a program for Farm Beginnings graduates or folks who have been farming for a couple of years. As part of the program, I will receive a farm mentor, attend retreats with others in a similar situation as me, work with a professor from the farm business management program and attend the Moses Organic Conference.
  • I decided to keep my steers and hens over the winter. It will be the first time having livestock year-round since I was about 16. Think of us when it’s 10-below-zero and 2 feet of snow!
  • I will continue working on organic certification (it’s a 3-year process).
  • I will focus on a few other goals for next year including a plan for selling meat birds again. Folks will be able to order whole birds in advance. Purchase will include the chicks, raising them on pasture and organic feed, and processing and delivery to our CSA drop sites.
  • I will earn some off-farm income through freelance marketing and production projects – like this rad foodie commercial we did for Wisconsin Tourism. Check it out here if you haven’t seen it on your TV already.

With that, I wish you the happiest of holiday seasons and a cozy, healthy winter season.

We are just a small farm in the grand scheme of things, doing what we can from our little 15 acres to make our world a better place. It isn’t much, but it is changing one girl’s life every day, in so many ways. Thanks for all the help and support you provide. I couldn’t do this without you.

Lisa

CSA Deliveries – Week of 7/28

I think of all sorts of interesting things to tell you guys while I’m out in the field, but by the time I get back to my computer I forget every single one of them!

This week is finally the week where I get to take a breath for a moment. But just for a moment. It feels good. I slept in, took a nap and stayed around the house a little longer for a couple of days this week. But, it won’t last long. The hoop house needs to be finished this week (hopefully), more third succession plantings need to get into the ground, and I need to process all of paperwork for the grant I received from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Back to busy real soon.

I spent Tuesday at a friend’s CSA farm to learn how they harvest and pack their boxes. I learned a lot of new things I can do for my operation – particularly the compost I should be working into my soil – and how drastically different produce grows when grown in good, well-manicured soil, compared to my new fields, which are sorely lacking in nutrients. They’re produce was beautiful! I have a lot to aspire to. Hopefully by my 7th year Bakers’ Acres will be that good, too.

Also, I’m surprised by the seasonality this year. I know it’s an odd year weather-wise, but the thought finally struck me today that we haven’t really hit “summer” in the fields yet. I’m still harvesting a bumper crop of sugar snap peas – the kind of peas that only seem to do well for only as long as the springtime cold is here – and it’s almost August 1st! The zucchini is just beginning to fill out and produce nice fruits. And the cucumbers, which usually peak mid-July, are still tiny babies! I’m just not sure what to think about this weather! It is nice for working outside, that’s for sure.

I planted cold weather crops for the fall harvest, so you should see better broccoli and cabbages this autumn, and fresh spinach and arugula.

Your support for my farm and your patience with my second year’s harvest is appreciated immensely. I wish the boxes were overflowing with goodies this year, but while they are now, know that I am fervently thanking you for your contributions this year as I pack each and every box. I hope it all tastes good at least.

Enjoy your boxes this week. They include:  sugar snap peas, a few red and gold baby potatoes, several peppers (a bell, jalapeno, Hungarian wax and/or purple cayenne), green zucchini, red lettuce, green romaine lettuce, green/yellow/purple beans, a cucumber and one little baby tiny beet, just for grins.

- Lisa

CSA Deliveries – Week of 7/21

Week 6 CSA deliveries to Minneapolis are today! Here’s what’s in the box:

  • Green, yellow and purple beans (yes, they’re purple!)
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Butterhead lettuce
  • Raspberries
  • Green zucchini squash
  • Pickling cucumbers
  • Peppers: Purple cayenne (the tiny ones – warning, these are hot!), Hungarian wax, Jalapeno, and a selection of Hungarian Cheese, Pompei and some young Bell peppers
  • Broccoli florets
  • Green cabbage (Large boxes only)

Enjoy!

CSA Deliveries: Week of 7/14

CSA Boxes

Boxes have been delivered to Monday’s and Thursday’s drop sites! Here’s what you got:

• Baby bok choi
• Hon tsai tai
• Tatsoi
• Dill
• Cilantro
• Red romaine – baby hearts
• Ruby red sky heading lettuce
• Baby romaine
• Parris Island Romaine
• Mustard greens
• Raspberries
• Broccoli florets

Farm Updates

I want to say thanks again for your CSA purchases this year. We could not be growing the farm’s infrastructure this year if it wasn’t for the funds you’ve provided. Here’s a glimpse into some of the improvements we’ve been making:

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These improvements are also partly why you’re probably eating a handful of quack grass with your cilantro! My sincerest apologies for the extra work you have to do to prepare the greens for your table. Our time has been split between field management and barn construction, which we hoped would be done before planting even began, but we were way behind schedule, so now we are falling behind on weeding.

Now happens to be the hardest time of the season, in my opinion. It’s the time when we are still planting (succession plantings of lettuces, radishes, etc.), while weeding, and also while we are diligently harvesting, washing, sorting and packing every other day or so. It’s also the time for the highest temps, the sunniest and muggiest days, while the evenings provide only about 90 pleasant minutes of feeling good about working on a farm, before the mosquitoes come out in full force at 7:30.

To make matters more stressful on the farm, our main volunteer has been out the last two weeks with kidney stones, and our intern hasn’t been able to find transportation to the farm – so we’re a few hands short!

Outside the CSA, restaurant sales have not yet begun, nor have we gone to the farmers’ market. So much produce is behind schedule and we want to make sure you guys are getting everything we have to give to fill your boxes. That means we’re bringing in less income than planned. But that’s okay.

This is by no means a sob story or a list of complaints – the story is being shared only to give you an idea of what’s behind eating a local, organic food supply. Knowing what sort of efforts go into the farm-to-fork continuum might bring you a greater sense of appreciation for your food, maybe helping you find more joy in preparing and consuming it. It always does for me!

The Animals

On a different note, the hens and calves are flourishing. The neighbor farmer harvested a bountiful hay crop off of the pastures, and then we made fence updates so the calves could start grazing. They seem to be loving their new life, transitioning from milk-replacer and grain to their natural state of “rumination”. The hens wander farther and farther from the coop each day, eating bugs and grain spills from the steers, then venture back to the coop to roost every night at sundown.

Every hen is an adventurer.

Every hen is an adventurer.IMG_4983

Recipes

Here are two recipes for the contents in this week’s CSA box:

Bok Choi Salad

Salmon with Lemon, Cucumber & Dill Sauce

 

Next Week

It looks like we’ll be harvesting yellow beans and cabbage, along with cucumbers and peppers.

Happy eating!

Lisa

CSA Deliveries – Week of 7/7

Did everyone have a good 4th of July holiday? We didn’t get a chance to relax this weekend at all, so we’ll take a raincheck and get some relaxation into our schedules in a few weeks hopefully.

Farm Updates

The lettuces are growing great, and the cabbages are very close to harvesting. But we are in a bit of a lull with the warm crops – which didn’t go into the ground until much later than normal with this delayed spring. Fortunately, the peppers and tomatoes have small fruits on them, so hopefully we’ll start harvesting those in a week or two!

In talking with a couple other farmers, it seems like it was a common phenomenon for the arugula, spinach and a lot of the Asian greens to bolt early. That means they went to seed and stopped growing the delicious tender leaves we love to eat! Even the second and third plantings of arugula and spinach bolted…so…you might not see much of these in your boxes til the cooler weather this autumn.

We’ve been planting new broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage transplants, so we’ll see if those survive the heat wave after they get into the ground.

The first plantings of vine plants (e.g., cucumbers, squashes, watermelon, etc.) must of rotted in the ground (or Lisa planted them too deep…), but we replanted and now they’re all sprouted! Fingers crossed they mature and ripen before that first frost right around the corner. :)

This week’s deliveries will be a little smaller than usual, but here’s what you’ll find:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Rainbow and Fordhook chard
  • Broccoli cuttings
  • Two varieties of kale
  • Strawberries
  • Peas

We hope you’ve enjoyed the produce you’ve received so far. If you have feedback on the quantity (e.g., Have you been satisfied with the amount of produce?), please let us know!

We just want to say, THANK YOU for being our CSA members this year. We wouldn’t be able to do the field prep, plantings, deliveries and all the wash/packing area updates if it wasn’t for your support. Really. So many, many thanks for being part of this farm.

Happy summer!

CSA Deliveries – Week of 6/30

FARM UPDATES

It’s been a VERY busy few weeks at the farm. We poured cement in the barn, built walls for the packing area, installed the bathroom, finally put up our mailbox, dug a 9′ hole around the well to trench to an outdoor hydrant, installed drip irrigation in Field 2 (100 x 200 feet), moved a 3,000-pound walk-in cooler to the farm and weeded like crazy. And, Farmer Lisa spent a week reviewing grant proposals for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture in the midst of it all! We couldn’t have done all the work without the very generous help of our friends and volunteers Tiffany, Emily, Rob, Dwight and Tony.

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CSA BOXES

This week’s CSA deliveries will be on Monday to the metro area as usual, but due to the holiday, we will deliver the St. Cloud area boxes on Wednesday instead of Thursday.

Boxes will include:

  • Strawberries
  • Peapods
  • Rhubarb
  • Some will have the first harvests of broccoli heads
  • A variety of greens: Fordhook and rainbow chard, romaine hearts, arugula, baby butterhead lettuce, spinach, kale, and a garden salad blend.

RECIPES

Three recipes have been added to the blog for you to try!

Simple Swiss Chard

Sugar Snap Peas & Shallots

Sugar Snap Pea and Strawberry Salad

EGGS

If you want to add eggs to your box this week, please order here by 1 pm Monday. Orders can be placed any day of the week, and your eggs will come with your next box.

T-SHIRTS AND HOODIES!

The farm apparel will be printed this week, so if you would like to order a t-shirt or hoodie, please place your order here by Friday! For those who already ordered shirts, the expected ship date is July 10.

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FARM-RELATED EVENTS

The Central Chapter of the Sustainable Farming Association is hosting their annual Festival of Farms in Onamia, MN on July 13 for the public. If you would like to check it out or even volunteer, you can find information here.

 

Many thanks for all your support for the farm!

 

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